Tabs and indents madness

So, this is probably one of those moments, where you feel pretty stupid afterwards, but I’m unable to wrap my head around it. This works as expected:

Now, if I Decrease First Line Indent ( ) – you’d expect this would be 0 (zero), but somehow Scrivener invents a new tab stop at 0,25 inches:

Why? How? What did I mess up?

0.25 is less than 0.4, so it did reduce indentation.

Why do you think 0 is the only number less than 0.4?

I don’t. But in this context it’s the only number that makes sense.

Why? The command is Decrease First Line Indent, and it did that. I use 0.25 indent all the time; it’s a perfectly reasonable choice.

Would you still ask “why” if the made up number were… let’s say 0.39?

Here’s the thing: It’s your choice. It’s reasonable and wonderful, no doubt. But not what I want. If I can choose a different first line indent, as long as it’s 0.25 inches – what’s the point of this setting to begin with?

The point is to reduce indentation in one keystroke without worrying about the precise number. If you want a specific number, you can set it at Format▸Paragraph▸Tabs and Indents... and define a paragraph style afterward.

Alright. So what happens when you use this command? Out of the box it “removes” the first line indent. As one would expect. Now imagine: instead it would set the indent to 0.12 or 0.07 or whatever. It decreased it, right? Would you be happy with the result?

Did you even read my question?

I would not expect “reduce” to mean “remove”. They’re English words with different meanings.

Interestingly enough, in my WIP I have indent = 0.26 in default formatting (I’ve no idea why I chose that, eons ago) and the command reduces it to 0.25. Use the command a second time (my fingers are already on the keys, after all), and it changes to zero.

Do it twice and you’ll probably get what you want.

On the other hand, maybe there’s a setting somewhere that determines what indentations the command will produce. If so, maybe you could change it.

Yes, and 0 is a specific number. Indentation is never removed.

If there are no tabs or indents defined between the first line indent and the page margin, a meaningful reduction would be “set to zero”. It effectively “removes” the first line indent. Structurally and visually. BTW this is Scrivener’s default behavior out of the box (with a 0.25 in first line indent).

Nope. Decreasing two times looks promising at first, but then increasing two times sets the first line indent to 0.50 in (wrong).

Yeah, maybe. That’s why I asked. :slightly_smiling_face:

Yes, and that’s what it does if you got to 0.25 with the command, then use the command again.

However, it’s the default behavior “out of the box” only if you create the project with a template whose default format has a 0.25" indent. I don’t know if that’s true for all built-in templates, and I’m sure it isn’t for all templates.

That’s a separate issue, because 0.4 isn’t one of Scrivener’s favorite indents, apparently. A series of indents 0.25" apart probably works for a lot of people.

I looked and didn’t find it. Maybe someone will.

IMHO, this (performing a series of indents) would indicate that it doesn’t work as intended. Since the first line indent is one value.

It can’t be two values, can it?

Well… right now, it seems to be even more than that. First decrease from 0.40 inch to 0.25 inch (-15), second decrease from 0.25 to 0 (-25). First increase from 0 to 0.25 (+25), second from 0.25 to 0.50 (+25). Aside from being way to much “seconds” involved… this can’t be right.

“Right” is whatever you want it to be, but unfortunately we haven’t found a way to set the favored indents to match your preference. You can either find that setting (if it exists) or move this to the Wish List and live with the situation until it changes.

It’s not that difficult to live with the situation, after all. You can create a style for each of the indents you favor, each with a shortcut, or you can create Keyboard Maestro macros (or similar, even Apple’s Automator or Shortcuts) to set those indents without changing anything else in the paragraph.

This sounds suspiciously like “bad practice”, styling body text to work around a (broken?) feature that’s exactly there to avoid doing such styling in the first place?

It’s not a broken feature. It’s just not based on knowing your particular preferences for indent, also known as reading your mind. If it’s not the same for everyone, then it would have to depend on something specific to you, if not Preferences, then paragraph formatting (tab stops?) – but then it could be different in different documents and paragraphs in your own work.

Another solution is to use 0.5" as your standard indent. I see no reason to think 0.4" is better in any way. The difference is pretty much invisible on a page.

No feature is built to satisfy everyone. If it satisfies others, maybe you let them enjoy it as is.

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From the Manual, appendix A.10., Format Menu:

Paragraph ▸ Increase/Decrease Indents ▸

[…]The amount of increment used depends on the unit of measurement set in the Editing: Options preference pane (subsection B.3.1), with the Ruler Units setting. All methods will adjust indentation in increments of 0.5cm; 0.25in; 1.5 picas and 18 points, relative to any existing indent settings on the paragraph.

How it works in practice for me is to preset (in one or more of the usual ways) the tab stops, as needed. (I’ll use inches in the example.)

The command will change the location by .25 as long as there’s no intervening tab stop. It will not increase or decrease the full .25 if there’s an intervening tab stop.

In example, if a first line indent is set to .40, then the command to decrease the indent is invoked, it will go the full .25 to .15 (whether there’s a tab stop there or not) unless there’s a tab stop between.

If one were to try to go from .50 to a tab stop set at .15, it would require invoking the command twice. First stop would be at .25 whether there’s a tab stop there or not, the second at the tab stop set at .15.

Well, actually… someone implemented this “mind reading technology”. See: First post in this thread. They call it an input field. Crazy, I know! Like magic.

Why is setting it to another value that I don’t want a solution in this case? How is this different from not changing it to begin with?

Did you just suggest my question reduces other user’s enjoyment of Scrivener?

Thanks for setting us straight!

Not true. I have no tab stops, and the command changes 0.4 to 0.25, not 0.15.

I won’t test the rest of it, since I never use the command anyway.